Manuel “Manny” Maldonado was born and raised in housing projects on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As a young kid, he was always excited to participate in sports and had the chance to attend a week-long Christian camp when he was eight years old. While sitting in a dormitory with a camp counselor, Manny heard the Gospel message of Jesus for the very first time and was forever impacted by the staff he met during that week.
For many of his childhood years, Manny experienced a tough home life and would retreat to the Boys’ Club of New York (BCNY) on the Lower East Side. There, he met with mentors, received homework help, and was introduced to several different sports. Manny was also accepted into the Independent Placement Program through BCNY and was able to receive a good education while excelling in basketball throughout high school.
Manny went on to attend Connecticut College in New London where he graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. After experiencing several personal hardships, he began praying and asking the Lord for clear direction in his life. One particular verse from his childhood stood out in his mind:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)
With guidance from his Christian friends and mentors, Manny made a pivotal decision in 2006 to serve coaches and athletes at BCNY on the Lower East Side. In 2009, he began volunteering at Chosen NYC Basketball League where he worked on several development projects that included Nike and the New York Knicks. After many years of ministering as a Head Coach, Physical Education Director, and Sports Instructor, Manny was introduced to FCA through a “Raising the Standard” program in 2014. When he met a staff member and was given an FCA Coaches Bible, he knew almost immediately that this was a stand-out organization.
“FCA was doing sports ministry on a much deeper level,” said Manny. “Their devotionals on integrity and leadership had a big impact on both my coaches and me. It was definitely a calling on my life to keep encouraging athletes. FCA was also ministering to kids who would probably never step foot in a church but would step onto a court. So in a huge way, they were bringing the church of Christ onto the court for these young children.”
Today, Manny is on staff with FCA as a Multi-Area Director where he focuses on building up local coaches and players. He also works as a Site Director at New Life of New York City and continues his ministry at BCNY on the Lower East Side. Manny lives with his wife Drusilla and their three children, Emmanuel, Roman, and Levi in Bronx, New York City.
Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ – to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
More information can be found at FCA.org.